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FMCSA Proposes Changes to Carrier Safety Rating System

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) recently published a Notice of Proposed Rule Changes regarding the method in which it evaluates motor carrier safety. The current Safety Measurement System (“SMS”) has been under scrutiny by several organizations since its release as CSA 2010, as too complicated and ineffective in determining the actual safety of a motor carrier.

As was required by the FAST Act, The National Academy of Sciences reviewed the current SMS methodology and ultimately recommended a change to an Item Response Theory (“IRT”) model. FMCSA has rejected the recommendation as too complex and difficult to implement.

However, FMCSA reviewed the data collected during those recent studies and has now provided recommended changes to the current SMS based upon those results.

The proposal recategorizes the BASIC safety measurements into the following ‘safety categories’:
  1. Unsafe Driving;
  2. Vehicle Maintenance- (driver observed violations-from pre-trip/post-trip and driving);
  3. Vehicle maintenance- (all other violations);
  4. Hazmat Compliance;
  5. Crash Indicator;
  6. Hours of Service; and
  7. Driver Fitness.
In addition to these revised categories, FMCSA has proposed: consolidating the number of safety violations from 973 to 116 (including 14 new violations); reducing severity weights into 2 categories; instituting proportionate percentiles; revising intervention thresholds for Driver Fitness and Hazmat Compliance categories; emphasizing recent violations; and modifying the utilization factor to better reflect vehicle miles traveled.

The impact of these proposed changes on motor carriers, brokers and the motoring public has yet to be determined. FMCSA has fashioned these changes as an improvement to roadway safety supporting its initiative to reduce fatal and serious accidents involving commercial motor vehicles. If effective, the changes could assist motor carriers in identifying internal safety risks as well as assist Brokers during their carrier selection process.

FMCSA has created a portal for each motor carrier to review their safety scores under the revised categories and rating system. Motor carriers and interested parties are encouraged to provide comment to FMCSA on or before May 16th, 2023.

If you would like to provide comment or further discuss these proposed changes, please contact Matt Selby or anyone in the Frantz Ward Transportation Group.

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